International conference: “Disputed Territories and Memory: Pathways to Agonism”.

Konferencja “Disputed Territories and Memory: Pathways to Agonism / Terytoria sporne i pamięć: ścieżki do agonizmu”.

The international conference "Disputed Territories and Memory: Pathways to Agonism" took place

on September 28-30, 2023. This conference was a final event of the five-year-long international

Disputed Territories and Memory (DisTerrMem) program, and was hosted by the Borderland

Foundation in partnership with the Institute of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania in Kaunas.

The first two days of the conference took place in Kaunas. The conference participants began their

stay in Lithuania with a walk through the city streets and, led by one of the coordinators, Tomasz

Błaszczak, learned about the history of Kaunas, whose modernist architecture has recently been

inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List.

First conference sessions, in the spaces of the Library Vlad Adamkus, opened with a lecture "How

to think about the history of the 20th century: a historian of Central and Eastern Europe in the face

of evil" given by Aurimas Švedas. It was followed by a session of lectures, during which the topic of

disputed territories, war and the politics of memory was presented based on the papers of

researchers from Pakistan, Afghanistan, Armenia and Austria. The next session revolved around

the topic of agonistic spaces, and its guests were from Finland, Poland, Belarus and Great Britain.

The next two days of the conference took place in the International Dialogue Center in

Krasnogruda. The participants, led by the coordinator of the event Weronika Czyżewska-

Poncyljusz, began their stay with a story about the place and a walk in the Krasnogruda park. Then

Krzysztof Czyżewski talked about the relationship between love, memory and otherness in the

context of the idea and practice of Borderland. In the afternoon, two sessions were held during

which participants from Poland, Scotland, Great Britain, Armenia, Austria, Lithuania and Pakistan,

based on their research experiences, talked about artistic and educational practices related to

memory, borderland and war, and discussed the way of practicing art and education on the borders

of memory. The first day in Krasnogruda ended with a Cafe Europa event in the „Song about

porcelain” Cafe led by Weronika Czyżewska-Poncyljusz. During the evening, with musical

accompaniment by Radosław Nowicki, poetry by Lusine Kharatyan, David Clarke, Iryna Mularczuk

and Krzysztof Czyżewski resounded, and there was a performative reading of a play by Shahid

Nadeem and members of the Ajoka theater group.

Saturday morning began with considerations on the exhibition and commemoration of the disputed

territories. During the second session, guests from Poland, Armenia, Great Britain and Pakistan

talked about creating cultural policy and the potential of agonism in building peace. After lunch, the

conference participants met in the Invisible Bridge space, where an exhibition of photos from

contemporary Kabul was presented: “Kabul II 23. Everyday life and the past” by Dr. Agnieszka

Nowakowska and Dr. Tomasz Rawski from the University of Warsaw. Then it was time for the last

session, during which the topic of commemorative practices in places with a complex history was

discussed. The conference ended with the concert of the Klezmer Orchestra of the Sejny Theater

at the Sejny Jazz Cooperative.

Text and photos Agata Wasilewska